West Kennet Long Barrow

West Kennet Long Barrow by munki-boy

West Kennet Long Barrow

West Kennet Long Barrow is a Neolithic burial mound dating back about 5,500 years. It is one of the largest and best-preserved examples of a chambered tomb in southern England.# West Kennet Long Barrow Entrance The West Kennet Long Barrow was built about 1,000 years before Silbury Hill. It was constructed from local sarsen stone and limestone, and topped with chalk dug from two side ditches which have now silted up.# Inside West Kennet Long Barrow Inside West Kennet Long Barrow there are five burial chambers which were constructed at the eastern end of the monument. It is possible that the western end of the mound may have been added at a later date and largely constructed of chalk and sarsen rubble.

Tea-lights and wildflowers have been placed inside the barrow - a practice that is fairly common in recent times, which raises dissaproval from some people but although it may be misguided as we can’t possible know the intention of the original creators of the barrow, it is a practice that shows people in modern times have respect for the site. It may also give clues to the interpretation of stages of use for such structures in the past at various times throughout history, for we may not be the first people to do such things. # West Kennet Long Barrow Burial Chambers Excavations have revealed that the West Kennet Long Barrow was used as a communal tomb - at least 46 people were buried here over a 1,000 year period.

The chambers contained the remains of a cross section of the community, men and women, and from the very-young to the elderly. Few complete skeletons were found intact and it appears that bones were rearranged, or sometimes removed altogether, probably as ritual practices.

Analysis of the human bones has shown thai arthritis and toothache were common complaints in Neolithic times.

About 4,000 years ago, the tomb was deliberately filled in and the entrance blocked.# West Kennet Long Barrow Modern Skylight and Cap In 1859 John Thurnam excavated the western chamber and central passage. He was apparently unaware of the existence of the other chambers, which were not excavated until 1955 by Stuart Piggot and Richard Atkinson.

A modern concrete cap now forms the roof of the West Kennet Long Barrow and a small skylight allows some illumination of the interior.

Created: 27  November  2016  Edited: 22  July  2018

West Kennet Long Barrow map